Hydrogel scaffolds for tissue engineering: the importance of polymer choice
Hydrogel scaffolds that can repair or regrow damaged biological tissue have great potential for the treatment of injury and disease. These biomaterials are widely used in the tissue engineering field due to their ability to support cell proliferation, migration and differentiation, to permit oxygen and nutrient transport, and to mimic native soft tissue. Careful design of the underlying polymer scaffold is therefore vital, dictating both the physical and biological properties of a hydrogel. In this review, we will provide a critical overview of hydrogel design from the perspective of the polymer chemistry, highlighting both the advantages and limitations of particular polymer structures, properties, and architectures. In doing so, we will help equip researchers with the tools needed to design new polymer systems and hydrogel scaffolds that address current limitations in the field and hinder clinical translation.